North Korea says it will stop sending trash-filled balloons after South Korea’s outcry

North Korea said Sunday it will stop sending trash-filled balloons into South Korea, after the democratic nation pledged to take “unbearable” steps in retaliation.

A North Korean vice defense minister, Kim Kang II, said Sunday that his country sent the balloons in response to South Korea’s previous leaflet campaigns, which often spread critical messaging of North Korean leaders among the people who live in the authoritarian country and who, therefore, lack access to outside news.

Kim said the country was prepared to resume sending trash-filled balloons if South Korea resumed its anti-Pyongyang leaflet campaign in North Korea.

“We made the [Republic of Korea] clans get enough experience of how much unpleasant they feel and how much effort is needed to remove the scattered wastepaper,” Kim said in a statement carried by North Korean state media, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Earlier Sunday, South Korea pledged to respond to the provocations with “unbearable” steps, which, the AP reported, experts predicted could include front-line loudspeaker broadcasts into the North. Experts predicted the broadcasts would be directed toward North Korean civilians, criticizing their authoritarian government’s track record on human rights violations, reporting on world news and playing K-pop songs.

South Korea’s military said it discovered more than 700 balloons sent from North Korea on Sunday, after finding 260 earlier this week. The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said the balloons were tied to manure, wastepaper and other trash. North Korea said they had flown 3,500 balloons carrying 15 tons of wastepaper.

South Korean officials said the “unbearable” retaliatory steps would be a reaction to the balloons, as well as to the alleged jamming of GPS signals in South Korea and to the North’s simulation of nuclear strikes against the South in recent days.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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